A couple of Sounders who didn’t play in the 2-0 Major League Soccer win over Houston last week still were noteworthy by their mere presence on the bench.
Making surprise appearances on the 18-man game roster were goalkeeper Bryan Meredith and midfielder Alex Caskey.
“(Goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra said) Meredith deserved a shot on the bench this week based on his performance during the week, so we rewarded that,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “And Caskey when we played Oregon State the other week here we thought he was our best player in that particular game, and we certainly want to reward guys when they’re playing well with the reserve team. He’s trained well, and he works hard, and we want to reward all those qualities.”
This was Caskey’s first game-day appearance in a Sounders uniform.
“It felt great, really good to be out there,” Caskey said. “(I was) excited to get the chance to get my first 18 (roster spot). I was hoping to play, but hopefully soon I can get on the team, get my debut.”
Caskey was a third-round pick in the 2011 SuperDraft. When he didn’t make the team he spent the season with the United Soccer Leagues’ Charleston Battery. He appeared in 22 games there, recording a goal and an assist.
The Sounders kept watching, liked what they saw, and invited him back.
“I just used Charleston as an opportunity to get better,” he said. “It was a good opportunity to get a lot of games at Charleston – I played, like, 20-something games – so it was good to get some game time and then come back and challenge for a spot.”
Meredith was a second-round selection in the same SuperDraft, spent last season with the Premier Development League-champion Kitsap Pumas, and also was invited back for another look. He seemed to spend most of the preseason behind veteran reserve keeper Andrew Weber but took his place directly behind starter Michael Gspurning last week.
“It’s my spot to lose now,” Meredith said. “That kind of makes you work a little bit harder, makes Andrew work a little bit harder; I think it makes Mike work a little bit harder. We’re always in training here to push each other and make each other better.”
After watching the Houston game from the bench, both players were in the starting lineup Monday in Seattle’s Reserve League opener at Vancouver. Caskey scored the Sounders’ goal in the 72nd minute, while the tying goal of the 1-1 draw got past Meredith in stoppage time.
The Sounders trained Thursday at CenturyLink Field, where they will play San Jose in an MLS match at 7 p.m. Saturday. This game will not count toward determining the winner of the 2012 Heritage Cup, except as a potential tiebreaker if no decisive result comes from the next two Sounders-Quakes matches. Schmid implied that forward Eddie Johnson (hip) could be available against the Earthquakes, but probably not as a starter. Nineteen-year-old forward Cordell Cato was held out of training Thursday because off ankle swelling. “We don’t think it’s anything serious,” Schmid said. The Sounders’ U-23 PDL team has announced a friendly against Gonzaga at noon April 15 at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
San Jose Earthquakes at Sounders FC, 7 p.m., Ch. 6/16, 97.3-FM, 710-AM